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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Burned-out Dragons could be slain by St Helens

Salford should have few problems against Toronto

Catalans got the better of Saints in the cup but it could be a different story today
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Salford v Toronto
Sky Sports Arena, 3.15pm Saturday

Catalans v St Helens
Sky Sports Arena, 5.30pm Saturday

A month ago, Catalans produced the performance of the season to rout St Helens in the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and whatever happens in the rematch in the south of France, the Dragons know they won the meeting that really mattered. 

That superb performance in Bolton was followed by a nail-biting triumph against Warrington at Wembley and 2018 will be remembered as the year history was made by the French club. 

The cup final is the only match Catalans have won since they beat Saints. Their three matches in the Super 8s have produced three resounding defeats by a combined margin of 127-16 and it appears the Dragons' race is run for 2018.

Saints haven’t fared much better recently with a win at Wakefield sandwiched by home losses to Huddersfield and Wigan. 

Last week’s loss to the Warriors will have come as a bitter disappointment and there’s no question St Helens' need for a win is greater than Catalans' not least because they still require another three points to mathematically clinch the League Leaders' Shield. 

Justin Holbrook’s team are warm favourites to repeat February’s 21-12 success at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. 

Back then, the Dragons were struggling and received a ten-point handicap start. This time the line is just six and Saints look worth backing on that basis. 

Salford are also worth supporting for their home assignment against Toronto in the Qualifiers. 

The Red Devils have been sensational in this mini-league with late-season recruit from Australia Jackson Hastings leading the bid to remain in next year’s Betfred Super League. 

Ian Watson’s men top the eight-team table after wins at Hull KR and Halifax and at home to Widnes. They’ve scored 122 points and conceded just 20.

George Griffin and Lee Mossop are set to return to the side and the hosts look a decent bet to successfully concede a ten-point start to the Canadian outfit. 

The Wolfpack have already lost at home to Hull KR in the Qualifiers and there’s a suggestion that they could be flat-track bullies after topping the Championship table by eight points. 

Even in that division, they lost at London, drew at Barrow and scraped a two-point win at Toulouse. This is much tougher.

Last year, Toronto lost 29-22 at the AJ Bell in the Challenge Cup but the margin of defeat may be wider this time. 

Salford 2-7 and St Helens 8-15
3pt double Sky Bet
St Helens -6
2pts 10-11 Sky Bet
Salford -10
2pts 10-11 general

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The cup final is the only match Catalans have won since they beat Saints
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Sky bet